The Survival of the Coolest

Book Cover


1960s & '70s,1940s & '50s

William Pryor

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A privileged young man, the great great grandson of Charles Darwin, enters the counter culture of Cambridge, Paris and London in the sixties. He becomes a beat poet in the sixties, and then a junky, before finding redemption through the love of a good woman.



Short Summary

Great great grandson of Charles Darwin, William hates his time at the snobby top school Eton. He escapes to become a hippy beatnik with other sons of academics as they explore drugs, poetry and hard bop jazz in Cambridge, London and Paris.

William finds resolution and redemption when he travels to India and meets his guru. Supported by his girlfriend, he overcomes the cynicism of his family and is able to stay clean for the next 40 years.


Cambridge, London, Paris, India

Based on a True Story


Plot - Premise

Internal Journey/Rebirth,Quest,Voyage and Return

Plot - Other Elements

Coming of Age,Happy Ending,Meaningful Message

Mature Audience Themes

Substance Abuse

Main Character Details

Name: William

Age: 5 to 35

Gender: Male

Role: Protagonist

Key Traits: Adventurous,Charming,Complex,Desperate,Engaging,Romantic,Insecure,Educated,Secretive,Underdog

Additional Character Details

Name: Joy

Age: 17 to 35

Gender: Female

Role: Sidekick

Key Traits: Adventurous,Aspiring,Charming,Faithful,Sexy,Naive,Heartthrob,Romantic

Additional Character Details

Name: Andrew / Nigel

Age: 12 to 35

Gender: Male

Role: sidekick

Key Traits: Adventurous,Masculine,Charming,Confident,Leader

Additional Character Details

Name: Alexander Trocchi

Age: 25 to 45

Gender: Male

Role: antagonist

Key Traits: Adventurous,Masculine,Badass,Aggressive,Charming,Desperate,Outspoken

Development Pitch

The Survival of the Coolest William is in search of his personal Holy Grail: the light that will explain and justify man’s claim to be the acme of evolution. After what passes for an English gentleman’s education in the 1950’s and 60’s this great great grandson of Charles Darwin is kicked out of Cambridge University and turns his quest to the underground beat scene, tortured by the expectancies on his shoulders. William falls for childhood friend turned muse Theresa, and then Joy, a quirky, pretty art student. She tries to direct William towards real projects that will satisfy his profound longing to become an artist in words, a poet. Desperately swimming against the current of family and privilege, William is supported in his quest by his painter grandmother Gwen. A trip to India to visit guru Swami Ji sows seeds of redemption. But William seems set on a path of self-destruction and his buddy Andrew gives up on him. He falls under the sway of the writer and cynical professional junky Alexander Trocchi. Just when it seems nothing worse can happen, Gwen dies and William’s father is killed in a car crash. His uncle accuses him of, in effect, killing his father. Even Joy’s patience is sorely tried by William but eventually he can no longer avoid the truth that selling his soul to heroin and self-destructive Trocchi can never help him produce great art. In India and Joy's steadfast devotion, William finds redemption and lives complicatedly every after.

About The Author

Great great grandson of Charles Darwin, William Pryor grew up in the febrile environment of the Wedgwood Darwin family in Cambridge, first at Eton College and then at Trinity College, Cambridge. Just when his mates were setting up Pink Floyd, William's rebellion led him to become a beat poet and junky in the sixties, mixing with the hipsters behind the largest poetry reading ever at the Royal Albert Hall. But this dangerous life style eventually caught up with him and he had to face reality. Fifty years later, a successful entrepreneur in the book business, William is able to imagine his extraordinary story of privilege and degradation, ecstacy and misery, paranoia and love becoming a movie.

Target Audiences

Age: 18-34,35-54,55+

Target Gender: Universal

Group Specific

Information not completed

Publishing Details

Status: Yes: with a Publisher

Publisher: Clear Press

Year Published: 2003

Hard Copy Available







William grows up on the coattails of his illustrious great great grandfather, Charles Darwin's reputation. Afforded an elite but constricting education at Eton, William starts to crumble. With his creativity stifled by elite expectations he falls headfirst into the escapism of addiction. After more than a decade he is able to overcome his addiction and make peace with his life by designing in a sustainable way that works for him.

Overall Rating


Point of View


Narrative Elements

Authors Writing Style: GOOD

Characterization: FAIR

Commerciality: FAIR

Franchise Potential: FAIR

Pace: FAIR

Premise: GOOD

Structure: FAIR

Theme: GOOD

Accuracy of Book Profile

Indeed the profile reflects the book accurately. However while Joy is helpful in getting William to make healthier choices through her support, it is still William's own internal transformation that ends up saving him rather than a third party like Joy.

Draw of Story

The abstract philosophies about the true modern meaning of addiction and the concrete examples of the addiction cycle that William went through are compellingly wise.

Possible Drawbacks

The pacing and trajectory of the addiction are sometimes hard to follow without continuous rising stakes. Although the location changes with the addiction, the level of addiction seems pretty stationary for much of the middle of the story without getting worse in a way that causes change to need to happen.

Use of Special Effects


Primary Hook of Story

The hook is that the main character is addicted to drugs, but can only overcome his dependence by embracing his addiction all the way to come out on the other side. He first must explore the addiction in order to find out its root cause and then figure out how to fill the void of what he was escaping before he can withdraw from the addiction.

Fanbase Potential

This could have a certain medium sized fanbase of fans that enjoy prestige dramas and 1960s counterculture. There are a lot of Western cultures represented as well as India and other Buddhist countries which with a sensitive depiction could draw a greater audience due to inclusion.

Awards Potential

Depending on the way the depiction the addiction is represented and how the themes are developed this may garner some nominations due to its unique perspectives on the controversial topic.

Envisioned Budget


Similar Films/TV Series


What’s New About the Story

The originality of the story comes from the explanation of abstract concepts about addiction. By integrating them more fully into the concrete plot's depiction of addiction, the chronology may sustain more tension or be cohesive in a more followable manner outside of time sequence.

Lead Characters

William is able to show that addiction is not the only part of a person and displays his creative flair as a beatnik and adventurer. He is strong in being able to cure himself from addiction and gainfully reflect on his own life lessons.

Uniqueness of Story

The philosophies offer a unique perspective on modern addiction and suggestions in how it needs to be approached in order to be healed properly. The concrete examples of the addiction journey are more common as the recovery only has one of two possible outcomes.

Possible Formats

Film - Indie, Film - Streaming, Film - Studio

Analyst Recommendation



While the story has many positive points, it has room for improvement (see possible paths below). If you can't change the story at this point, my suggestion is using your notes as a guide to highlight the best aspects of it when taking the next steps, either putting a pitch page together, a treatment, or a presentation.

Tips for Improvement

Although the inner conflict is consistently being developed alongside the external conflict, by making the tension rise in a consistent manner the climax of choosing recovery will have a greater emotional investment and the moment will be easier to spot due to the heightened tension.